Friday, 8 May 2015

Weaving for the first time - Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

So at the end of the previous stage, the loom looked like this:
Photo (c) Isabella von Holstein 2015

You can't weave like this, as all the threads are hanging flat in one plane. You need to divide them into (at least) two layers. Two layers is enough to be able to weave a tabby textile. This is the simplest cloth construction possible for a loom (baby steps for us).

The next stage was to rearrange the attachment of the warp threads to the weights. We divided each loop of thread we made last week into a forward thread and a backward thread, which alternate:
Photo (c) Isabella von Holstein 2015

Then we attached all the forward threads to one set of weights, and all the backward ones to another:


Go to Part 3.


Weaving for the first time - part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2 here:

The final preparation stage was to set up the mechanism for changing the shed, that is bringing all the back threads forward and through the front ones to allow the weft to pass. To do this you have to individually attach each back thread to a heddle bar, which is fiddly:
Photo (c) Isabella von Holstein 2015
We have 340 warp threads in total, so we had to tie 170 warp threads to the heddle. This took 3.5 hours, with four of us taking turns. OK, so we are probably slow because we are not experts, and were not rushing, but still.

Now the heddle is in place, it means you can do this, which moves the two warp systems through each other:
Heddle bar back. Photo (c) Isabella von Holstein 2015

Heddle bar forward. Photo (c) Isabella von Holstein 2015
The weights make a lovely soft clicking sound when you move the heddle.

If you put a weft thread through the gap between the warp threads between each heddle movement, this happens:
Weaving! Photo (c) Isabella von Holstein 2015

You can see from the irregularities in the pic above (both the gaps in the warps and the unevenness in the weft) that we are not experienced at this, but we are still rather proud. :)

Next week for the live demo by the megalith! I think that simply getting the loom out of my office, down the stairs, and 300m across campus is going to be the hardest part...

Weaving for the first time - Part 1

This year, the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel is celebrating its 350th anniversary. My department's contribution to the celebrations is to build a replica megalith grave outside one of the canteens. This reflects the department's longstanding interest and experience in excavating this monument type in the local area.

As part of the celebrations, I was asked to set up and run the department's warp-weighted loom, as a demonstration of prehistoric technology. With the help of my students in Textile Archaeology course I'm running this semester, I have been setting it up over the last month. Here are some pictures of the process.

The kit:

Loom elements leaning against the office wall
There are in fact uprights for two looms here. The box contains the warp weights and some spindles, which we will also be using on the day. Photo (c) Isabella von Holstein 2015.
Setting up the starting border, which is tablet woven (not a Neolithic technique, but oh well):
Construction of the tablet-woven starting border
Nerd details: 12 tablets, turned 10 forward then 10 back. The pattern is threaded in, and the simplest possible. The yarn is a 75/25% wool/polyamide mix. Photo (c) Angelika Woehler-Geske 2015.

Measuring out the warp threads by stretching them around the legs of an upturned table
Yes, that is an upturned table we're using the measure the warp threads. Each weight has 10 loops attached to it at this stage. Photo (c) Angelika Woehler-Geske 2015.
The starting border is now attached to the top bar of the loom:

The starting border bound to the top bar of the loom with the warp threads suspended
The yarn is looped around and around the top bar, every 4 warp threads. Photo (c) Angelika Woehler-Geske 2015.

Go to Part 2 or Part 3